What is sleep apnoea?

Sleep apnoea is classified as a serious condition where your breathing literally stops due to your airway being completely blocked. Its quite common among adults, but is rare among children.

When you experience each apnoea episode, your breathing will stop and your brain will tell your body to wake up to open the air passage. This may happen numerous times during the night and you won’t necessarily wake up enough to realise what’s happened.

Due to this disruption in your sleep rhythm, you will suffer each day from a severe lack of sleep. Often this condition can go unnoticed for many years and you may have accepted the exhaustion not knowing there could be a possible concern.

What are the symptoms of sleep apnoea?

Some symptoms can include:

  • Frequent waking episodes at night
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Loud snoring
  • Aggressive sleep behaviour – i.e. tossing and turning
  • Disrupted breathing, gagging, gasping or choking for air during sleep

Sleep apnoea patients can suffer from many health conditions such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, memory problems, weight gain, impotency and headaches.

This is a serious and life-threatening condition and if necessary we can refer you to a sleep specialist for further investigation.

How are snoring and sleep apnoea related?

Not all patients who snore will develop sleep apnoea. Most people with sleep apnoea, however, do snore. Snoring is a common symptom of sleep apnoea, but sleep apnoea snoring is different from regular snoring.

When a patient regularly snores it partially blocks your airway but doesn’t cause any significant breathing problems. Sleep apnoea snoring is the result of a partial or full obstruction of the airway and severely restricts or stops breathing which starving your body of oxygen.

Sleep apnoea snoring is related to other serious health conditions, including type-two diabetes, hypertension, and obesity.

If you are suffering any of the above symptoms or know someone who is, schedule a consultation with our experienced dentists today to see how we can help you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Sleep apnoea is caused by your airway becoming obstructed while you are asleep. An example of this would be when the muscles in your throat and your tongue relax to a point where they become a blockage to your windpipe. This is the reason why most people snore while they are asleep. Unfortunately, these blockages are not something that you can control while you are sleeping. There is a large risk of sleep apnoea in people who are overweight, your tonsils are intact or if you have a large tongue. These natural bodily structures will also increase your chances of developing sleep apnoea.

The most noticeable symptom of sleep apnoea is snoring. However, it is important to note that if you snore, that does not automatically mean that you have sleep apnoea. Symptoms of sleep apnoea are commonly noticed by someone who shares your bed since symptoms like snoring may come in cycles and, therefore, there are periods when you breathe normally when asleep.

It is very common for those who suffer from sleep apnoea to be lethargic when awake and have irregular sleeping patterns since their sleep is often disrupted. Other than snoring and severe drowsiness, another common symptom found in those who have sleep apnoea is severe headaches when they wake up.

The only way to be certain that you suffer from sleep apnoea would be to go and get diagnosed by a specialist who will conduct a polysomnogram or ‘sleep study’. The study will consist of you having various pieces of equipment attached to you (you do not need to worry; none of it is invasive) before you go to sleep. This equipment will measure and test for multiple things such as your breathing patterns, brain activity and heart rate. It is from the results of this study that you will be able to determine whether or not you have sleep apnoea.


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